This has become a bone of contention among many who don’t like NCL’s concept of freedom of choice where you eat and casual dress code. Now Royal Caribbean are not only doing a slight version of it. It looks like they are copying it completely on Quantum and Anthem, which isn’t going down particularly well among some loyal passengers. 18 places to eat, pay and free, but no main dining room to go with no Viking Crown Lounge and apparently, no formal nights.
Now I’ll try anything but must admit, I do enjoy having a main dining room where you see the same waiters and people each night plus a different menu. It’s also more convenient if you have a food allergy. Mine is bell peppers and am guaranteed they will not be included at dinner. Which is more than can be currently said of free places on Royal Caribbean due to them shoving them into things such as egg mayonnaise rolls, bolognese sauce, hidden under the cheese on pizza, to name a few. It wouldn’t be so bad if they actually listed what was in the food but bolognese sauce especially should be safe. They also need to realise a lot of people just don’t like bell peppers and no surprise it’s one thing they don’t run out of towards the end of a cruise. I have no such issue on NCL thankfully, so pre-ordering meals isn’t necessary. However, since the introduction of My Time Dining (which took the Freestyle concept), I have noticed less people coming to second sitting and ended up alone on Indy and Vision (twice). That seems to bother my waiters more than me as they constantly ask if I’m alright. Then there are the speciality restaurants (of which there are more on the bigger ships) meaning seats are empty. So it was only a matter of time really until something was changed. Use it or lose it, as the saying goes. Not enough went so waiters stood around like spare parts. How many of those now complaining actually went to fixed dining at least most nights during their cruise? It’s entirely possible these changes will bite Royal Caribbean hard on the bum. I’ve already seen comments on the internet from people saying they will cancel their bookings. But if people don’t want an NCL-style dining experience on a Royal Caribbean cruise, fill those empty tables at main dining!
Then we get onto lack of formals. I for one welcome this. It’s fine if you cruise once or twice a year as it’s the only place you can posh up. But I take my 57th cruise at Easter and became sick of it a long time ago. I think the turning point was Aurora in 2011. Out of 18 nights, half were formal and semi-formal (or Black Tie and Smart as it was renamed then). My Australian friend Juanita came over for that and only had a 20kg baggage limit. The following year I was able to take my new, smaller case on Constellation for 12 nights and Indy for 11 since there were just 3 formals but to go on P&O or Cunard, I need the big one. Many internet comments are from those who have to be smart for work and want to ditch the suits on holiday. Who can blame them? The world is changing, meaning you can even wear jeans to the theatre, and most cruise lines are reflecting that, especially as they try to attract the next generation. I think the only way to go is optional formals then people can please themselves.
I for one am excited to see what Quantum and Anthem have to offer, whether it works or not. It’s a big risk they’re taking after all and will be the ones to suffer if it fails.